Persian Chicken Stew with Apples (Khoresh e-sib)

I love Persian food.  If I could eat one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, I really think I would pick Persian cooking over any other.  However, despite my love for the food I've always shied away from making Persian dishes - I thought that they would be very difficult to make and would require cartloads of ingredients that I didn't already have in my kitchen.  For years I would just visit Persian restaurants for the occasional indulgence and was too intimidated to do the cooking myself.

This all changed recently when I came across a wonderful cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij.  She makes Persian cooking so accessible and breaks everything down so easily.  I wish I had bought this book earlier!

This is the first recipe I try out of this book (because this stew is my husband's favorite) and I will definitely be making many more.

This apple stew is truly scrumptious - it calls for few ingredients and is quite easy to make.  Moreover, as an added bonus you'll find that this is quite light and is very healthy too - many stews are heavy and are too rich thus leaving one in a food coma but this is quite the opposite - it's perfect!  My only complaint is that cooking time is rather long (patience was never my strong-suit) but really all you have to do is throw a few ingredients in a dutch oven and enjoy the fantastic aroma that is filling your kitchen.  This recipe calls for minimal manual labor, I promise.

Ingredients: (I wanted to make a smaller quantity than in the book so I altered the quantities accordingly)
2 large onions, sliced
1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/5 cup yellow split peas (rinsed thoroughly)
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1.5 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar)
1.5 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 tsp ground saffron.  Dissolve this in 1 tablespoon hot water
2.5 tart cooking apples which have been peeled, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces 
NOTE: I used granny smith apples and they were great as they are quite sour and work wonderfully in savory dishes.

1. In a dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
2. Add the chicken, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Cook until the chicken has become slightly browned.
3. Add 1.5 cups of water to the dish.  Cover and lower the heat.  Let cook for half an hour (keep checking on the dish though to make sure it doesn't need extra water and isn't burning).
4. Add the split peas, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar and saffron.  Cover and cook on a low heat for another half an hour.
5. In the meantime, heat one tablespoon oil (less if you prefer) in a pan and sauté the apples for about ten minutes or until they are golden brown.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
7. Transfer the stew to an ovenproof casserole.  Add the apples on top.  Cover the casserole and let the stew bake for about 45 minutes.

Serves 2 very hungry people (we had enough leftovers to feed another person or two)

From Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. 

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  1. Slurp! Wow! Why, these are so spicy and hot! Adding apples is a new exciting twist! Nutritious!

  2. Hi Nirvana! This recipe got me very excited! You were right, its healthy and has potential to be delicious even with lack of attention. But my only gripe remains the addition of saffron. I have run out of it and need to figure out if this stew will work without saffron. Do you think it will? Is there anything else that I can use to replace it?
    You know this stew would make a great Fall staple by using up in season green apples and always available chicken.

  3. Wow. See I would think that the ingredients would be difficult to come by as well and long prep or cook times but this whole recipe is definitely friendly. I have all those ingredients in my house, yay! I know my husband would love this scrumptious looking dish as well.

  4. This is such a great idea, I never thought about cooking apples with stew. it reminds me very much of my peranakan grandmother's cooking where she would marinate the beef overnight with papaya and make beef rendang curry with the papaya. makes me think about the same sweetness and texture.

    thanks for sharing!

  5. Nirvana, I'm so impressed! This is a great dish! Looks so delicious! I haven't had khoresh-e sib in such a long time and I'm going to make it soon! Yummy!

  6. Thanks everyone!!! :) Soo glad that you liked this dish - you should make it, it's really yummy!

    TD: hmmmmm.... I don't know of any saffron substitutes. I imagine that this dish will be good without it as it calls for very little saffron but I can't be certain. So sorry I can't be more helpful. The good thing about saffron is that a little goes a long way so even if you get some you can be frugal about using it. Good luck and if you do find a substitute please do let me know! :)

  7. What a fab dish this surely is!!

    Lovely food!

  8. this recipe was AMAZING!!!! I loved it and so did my friends. thanks!

  9. Hey there!

    Just finished making this and it came out absolutely delicious and comforting. Thanks for sharing this delightful recipe :)

  10. you can always use tumeric to replace saffron. Also you can buy dried safflower, it is the same as saffron.

  11. Looks delish! But aren't you supposed to eat this with rice?

    1. yes, you can eat it with rice. saffron rice would be best :)

  12. can i make this in a slow cooker?



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